Sky News

Cyber espionage and foreign interference pose serious threats to Australia's national security, the federal attorney-general says.

'The next ten years will undoubtedly see a marked intensification of this activity,' Robert McClelland told a Sydney summit discussing the decade since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Mr McClelland pointed to recent prominent cyber attacks such as Ghostnet, which infected computers belonging to the office of the Dalai Lama and Stuxnet which brought Estonia to a virtual standstill.

'These attacks and the threat to critical infrastructure such as banking, telecommunications and government systems is not something we can be complacent about,' he said on Tuesday.

The Australian government has made cyber security a top national security priority and is investing to significantly enhance Australia's cyber security capabilities, he added.

The global and interconnected nature of the internet means the threat extends beyond nations.

'For this reason it is critical that laws designed to combat cyber threats are harmonised, or at least compatible to allow for international co-operation,' Mr McClelland told the conference hosted by the United States Studies Centre.

The government is seeking to strengthen international arrangements by moving to accede to the Council of European Convention on Cybercrime.

This is the only binding international treaty on this 'significant threat', he said.

'(Accession to the convention) will help Australian agencies to better prevent, detect and prosecute cyber intrusions.'